Brutal beating of NASCAR driver after Rascal Flatts concert prompts lawsuit

NASCAR driver Mike Wallace and his family have sued the owners and management of PNC Pavilion, holding them responsible for a brawl in which Wallace and his daughter were severely beaten.
NASCAR driver Mike Wallace and his family have sued the owners and management of PNC Pavilion, holding them responsible for a brawl in which Wallace and his daughter were severely beaten. WBTV

NASCAR driver Mike Wallace has resumed his legal fight over the 2016 mauling he took during a post-concert brawl at PNC Pavilion, with the veteran racer and his family accusing the venue’s owners and management of irresponsibly failing to head off the fight.

In a lawsuit moved to federal court on Friday, Wallace, his wife, daughter and son-in-law accuse the corporate owners/operators of allowing an unruly group with a history of violence at pavilion events to drink themselves drunk during a June 2016 Rascal Flatts concert, then unleash a vicious and unprovoked attack on the Wallaces and their friends in the VIP parking lot.

As Wallace, his daughter and others were sucker-punched, stomped and beaten, the pavilion’s security team stood by and watched, the complaint says. Both Wallace and his daughter were hospitalized.

The lawsuit names Pavilion Partners, the Atlanta-based owners of the pavilion; Live Nation Entertainment Inc. of Beverly Hills, Calif., which owns Pavilion Partners and operates PNC Pavilion; Live Nation Worldwide Inc., also of Beverly Hills; and Legends Hospitality, a New Jersey-based LLC that provided food and drink the night of the concert.

Live Nation, according to the lawsuit, bills itself as the “Global Leader for Live Entertainment,” and reported revenue in 2015 of $7.2 billion.

Defense attorneys Jason Benton and Mel Garafalo, both of Charlotte, could not be immediately reached for comment Friday.

The alleged attackers – made up of employees of the pavilion’s grounds-keeping company, Lucas Lawn & Landscaping Co., and their friends – had been involved in at least four other fights at PNC events before the brawl involving the Wallaces, the lawsuit says.

After the fight, Wallace filed assault charges against three company employees: Paul Lucas and Nathan Lucas, sons of the owner, and Randolph Mangum. The case ended in a mistrial last October, and Wallace dropped the charges in February.

Neither the Lucas company nor its employees are included among the defendants in the new complaint, which recreates in grisly detail how a performance by one of country music’s most popular acts degenerated into a chaotic violence within an exclusive parking area.

According to the suit, the Lucas contingent was already drinking heavily when Wallace and his friends and family arrived at the concert and parked nearby in the VIP lot.

During the concert, the complaint says, the Lucas group consumed “enormous quantities of alcoholic beverages ... all provided by the defendants or their agents.”

The contingent became “so obviously inebriated during the show” that nearby audience members were removing their drinks. The group kept ordering – and receiving – replacements, the suit says.

After the show, the Wallace and Lucas contingents came together in the parking lot. According to the lawsuit, after Wallace asked members other group how they liked the show, Nathan Lucas launched himself from the back of a pickup and knocked the driver unconscious. He was then stomped, slugged and kicked, the lawsuit says.

His daughter, Lindsey Van Wingerden, was choked and beaten as she tried to protect her father, leaving her with broken ribs and a fractured wrist, the complaint says.

The suit describes security personnel, who were aware of the Lucases’ past violence at the pavilion, standing by while the beatings went on. The complaint alleges that Live Nation had a policy of not interceding in fights “involving multiple assailants.”

In the short-lived trial last year, an alternative version of the night’s events began to surface. Under cross-examination by defense attorneys, Wallace acknowledged that he had four vodkas and Diet Cokes during a four-hour period, while admitting that he had active prescriptions for anti-anxiety medication and other drugs that were not to be taken with alcohol.

While the lawsuit describes Wallace knocked unconscious without warning, then lying defenseless on the ground while being punched and stomped, defense attorneys showed him a video of the fight that reportedly shows the driver actively involved.

The complaint makes multiple claims of negligence against the groups – from continuing to sell alcohol to “openly intoxicated” individuals, and not providing adequate security to protect Wallace and his family from a group “with a known propensity for violent behavior.” The suit also alleges negligent infliction of emotional distress and punitive damages.

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS